Producing For an International Audience

Darren Abogado - Club De Cuervos: The Global desire of The Beautiful Game
Jake Macfarlane's picture Jake Macfarlane 2 years 7 months ago
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In North America, sports are ingrained in our culture. We root for the team that resonates

with us, we follow their stories year after year, we grieve in the losses of the games we needed

the most, and are more than exuberant when our dreams of winning that one game, that one

championship, comes true. Here, basketball, baseball, football are kings. But, when you go

outside of the continental United States and Canada, it's all about the beautiful game. Whether

it's called soccer, footy, or futbol, it is THE king with most of the rest of the world. It's

practically universal, and has a religion-like following in Spanish-speaking countries especially.

Netflix, now considered a truly global television distributor mixes the universality of the game of

soccer, the messy politics often associated with sports organizations in Mexico, and comedy to

create the network's flagship original Spanish-language comedy series, Club de Cuervos.

Club de Cuervos is created by acclaimed Mexican director Gaz Alazraki and American

producer Mike Lam and was commissioned by Netflix to help the network tap into the Spanish

language market. However, unlike television shows broadcast by traditional networks, Club de

Cuervos is marketed to every territory where Netflix is available, not just the region where it is

produced. It is written with the full knowledge that it will have a global audience, and the writing

team is made up of Americans, Mexicans and Spanish people. Alessia Constantizini, an

American writer on the show said in an interview with The Huffington Post that "writing

"globally" is so exciting - it's a real paradigm shift for TV writers".

 

The production itself is truly global. Netflix, although headquartered in the United States,

is present in over 100 countries, and all of their original series', including Club de Cuervos, are

available in every country Netflix is available in. The writing team, composed of American's,

Mexicans and Spanish people is written in California entirely in English, and then translated by

the Spanish-speaking writers in to Spanish, who ensure that the right syntax is used to maintain

the intended meaning of the text. To avoid being too regionalist in their writing style, they

deliberately use classic "American" comedic conventions instead of the telenovela style of

writing usually present in Mexico, where the show takes place. This was done to offer something

new to Mexican viewers and as to not alienate viewers who are not familiar with Mexican

culture. The style of writing is accessible to every person in any country. The production also

makes use of casting established actors from all Spanish-speaking countries, as well as Brazilian

actors to appeal to the South American and Spanish audiences. For example, lead actor Luis

Gerardo Mendez is extremely famous in his native Mexico. Stephanie Cayo, who plays the

young step-mother to the series' lead characters is an extremely popular actress, singer, host and

businesswoman in Peru, while supporting actor Jaoquin Ferreira who plays a pompous soccer

player on the show's team is a famous male model from Argentina.

 

The program itself is based around a Division 1 soccer team called the Cuervos in the

small Mexican city of Nuevo Toledo and is owned by Salvador Iglesias Sr. He unexpectedly

passes away leaving his young wife still pregnant and his two children Isabelle and Salvador Jr

"Chava" fighting over power of the club and the family's fortune. Isabelle is the highly educated

but bitter first child of Salvador while Chava is the spoiled second child. Salvador leaves Chava

to be president of the Club in his will, with Chava making radical, misguided changed to the club

leaving Isabelle furious, all the while, Mary Luz, Salvador's wife, is also claiming ownership to

the club on behalf of their newborn brother. The show is a fun satirical look at the politics of

Mexican Soccer as well as the family dynamics of the fractured Iglesias family.

 

The show, because of its light tone mixed with binge-worthy drama, was highly

entertaining for me to watch. The writing is extremely clever, much to the credit of its talented

and diverse writing team, who managed to mix the drama of Mexican telenovelas and classic

American comedy tropes. Although the show is entirely in Spanish, it was highly accessible and

relatable and did not even notice that I was reading subtitles. As a Canadian, I found this series

highly entertaining to watch. However, the show has so far only reached and resonated with

those from Spanish-speaking countries. Although the initial goal of the show was to introduce

Netflix to Spanish countries, I believe that if it was marketed more towards its English viewers

as much as its Spanish viewers like Netflix has done with its other original Spanish-language

series Narcos, it will be able to market itself better to the English contingent of the Netflix

customer base.

 

I found myself binge-watching this series after the first episode and have already finished

its second season, which was release in December of 2016. I believe that Canadians who give

this show a chance will absolutely love it, just like I did.